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Choosing the Right Materials for Your Patio and Deck

Whether you want to create a casual or sleek patio, there’s a material to suit your style. Here are some of the most popular options:

Composite decking is a quick and easy option that won’t splinter or mold. It’s also durable and resists mildew.

Natural stone is a tried and true favorite for its look and durability. Flagstone, slate, and sandstone come in a variety of colors and textures from smooth to wavy.

Natural Stone

Natural stone is a beautiful, durable, and eco-friendly material that brings an organic feel to any outdoor space. It also offers huge versatility and the option to use borders, inlays, and accents for a personalized look. It can be left uncut for a rustic or traditional feel or precision-cut for a modern patio design. Each piece of stone is unique too, giving it a one-of-a-kind charm that can’t be replicated.

It requires little maintenance too, and a quick rinse with the garden hose is enough to keep it looking clean and new. It holds up well to temperature changes and can handle heavy traffic too, but a good base is essential to prevent shifting.

While there are benefits to using natural stone, it can be expensive compared with some of the alternatives. Fortunately, look-alike products such as Barkman precast concrete pavers are available and offer an affordable alternative for homeowners seeking a natural stone patio. They also have the added benefit of being slip resistant. This means they’re safer to walk on in wet weather conditions.

Pavers

Whether you want an old-world cobblestone patio to match your home’s exterior or a modern concrete paver surface to complement your backyard fire pit, pavers are a great option. They are easy to install and allow for flexibility in your design. Plus, if a single paver becomes broken, it can easily be replaced without disrupting the entire surface.

Brick pavers also are eco-friendly and made of clay material sourced directly from the earth, which doesn’t harm the environment. However, these patio pavers don’t offer as much design versatility as other natural stone options. They are available in a few different textures and colors but don’t accommodate many modern home design aesthetics.

Pavers are molded from wet concrete to look like natural stones or brick and come in two categories – interlocking pavers and architectural slabs. Interlocking pavers are durable and not prone to cracking or breaking, especially when installed on a bed of properly compacted sand. They are three to four times stronger than a concrete foundation of your house, and have a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.

Concrete

Concrete is a popular choice for patios because it’s affordable and can be stamped, etched or stenciled to look like other types of pavers and materials. It’s also an eco-friendly option. “With permeable concrete pavers, rainwater seeps through the surface into the ground, reducing the load on local storm drains,” says Joe.

While flagstone is more expensive than plain concrete, it delivers a softer and more bespoke feel that boosts your home’s resale value. Likewise, composite decking—a blend of wood fibers and high-density polyethylene—is smart underfoot and brings a natural feel to your yard.

A patio is the better choice for a flat landscape, while a deck is better for sloping landscapes because it can be built on sturdier posts that are cemented into holes in the ground. Both require regular maintenance to keep them looking good, however. For example, patios need to be regularly sealed to protect them from moisture and chemicals, and they should be re-stamped or stained to freshen their appearance.

Loose Materials

Loose materials are open-ended materials that can be moved, redesigned, manipulated, and taken apart in multiple ways. These materials are often found in nature, but they can also be created in the classroom or at home. They provide children with endless possibilities for play and help nurture creative and imaginative thinking and problem-solving [20].

Popular in English gardens, pea gravel patios are earth-toned stones under an inch in size that offer a quaint aesthetic and a cost-effective option. However, it may need raking and topping up regularly to suppress weeds and retain moisture.

Brick patios are a durable option that requires no upkeep, but they can crack and crumble over time. Salvaged bricks are a more eco-friendly option that looks similar and has the added benefit of supporting drainage.

Mixed Materials

When combined correctly, dissimilar materials can create a spectrum of visual contrast and add interest to a hardscape design. Mixing materials can also help lower a project’s costs. For example, incorporating metal into your space can make it more affordable than a pure wood deck.

Pavers made of granite, slate, and sandstone offer a natural grip underfoot, and they’re long-lasting and durable. They’re also available in a variety of colors and textures. Some even have a speckled surface for a more organic look. Granite is the most expensive of these options but can be a good fit for both traditional and modern homes.

Concrete pavers are also a cost-effective choice and they come in many different styles and colors. They can be molded to form a curved patio and are ideal for a more individualized look. However, poured concrete isn’t suitable for a sloped yard and it’s not recommended if your patio will be over plumbing or electrical lines. It can also crack over time and must be regularly power washed to keep it looking clean.

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